Making Connections

Last night I had the opportunity to meet and spend some time talking with Amanda Marrinan who is an amazing educator from Brisbane Australia. Having been unable to attend ISTE 2010 in person, I had missed out on all of the connections that happened there so I was thrilled when the last part of Amanda’s adventures landed her in Los Angeles. Her students do amazing things and make connections with other classes around the world. I had been inspired by Amanda, Maria Knee & Kathy Cassidy’s ISTE 2010 presentation, Let’s Do It: Planning for Technology in Early Childhood Classrooms, and in person I was again inspired by Amanda and her description of her inquiry based classroom and her enthusiasm for technology in the classroom.

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My connection with Amanda led to a personal teaching moment with my daughters. When I told my younger daughter, who is 14, that I was going to go meet Amanda who I had only ever met online she said “but Mom you told us to never meet people we’ve only met online” and my older daughter, who is almost 18, tweeted this:

Hahaha! my mother, a computer teacher who teaches kids not to meet someone they only met online, is now out meeting someone she met online.

My younger daughter and I had a conversation about how it can be okay to meet people we’ve met online if we know who they are based on:

  • how we meet them online
  • how long we’ve “known” them
  • what they post

We also talked about how we should always first meet in a public place and how, as a teen, she should always make sure that an adult is with her if she’s meeting someone that she’s only met online.

All of this led me to wondering about what and how I teach Internet Safety and Digital Citizenship. I had reflected on some of this before in my Building Digital Citizens blog post but this has now become about the tools that I’m using to teach. Almost every one of them stresses to never meet someone offline that you’ve only met online yet I have some amazing friends that I have made and met that I first met online over a common interest. So, how do I teach that sometimes it’s okay? At what age does it become okay? If I say it’s okay sometimes will that give a potentially at risk Middle School student permission to go meet that person they shouldn’t be meeting?

For those of you who try to teach Digital Citizenship, what do you teach about this issue? For those of you with children, what do you teach them?

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